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Online Safety

37 States now investigating Google StreetView snooping

37 States are now involved in a "powerful multi-state investigation" of "Google's Streetview snooping" per a press release from investigation leader, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who released a new follow-up letter to Google asking for more information and clarification of its representations to date. 

The letter shows the investigation is very serious. Its prosecutorial exactness strongly suggests that investigators believe Google has not been forthright in its answers to date and that it could be covering up material information to the investigation. 

  • Several questions in the letter also indicate that the investigators are seriously concerned about the integrity and completeness of Google's systems of internal controls and supervision to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers. 

What appears to be the most problematic line of inquiry is whether or not Google tested this software before it was used in public to collect private information on consumers. 

Google China License: What's the rest of the story?

In an exceptionally uncharacteristic low-key PR manner for Google, Google announced on its blog in one sentence that China renewed its license to operate in China.

  • "Update July 9:
    We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license and we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China."

What's the rest of the story here?

Google and China have been at loggerheads with one another in one of the highest-of-profile international standoffs between a private company and a superpower in modern history, since Google publicly accused China in January blogpost of being complicit in a hack of Google that resulted in the theft of Google's intellectual property, (which John Markoff of the New York Times reported was the extremely sensitive computer code for Google's password control system.) 

What is the quid pro quo here?

Fact-Checking the "Hire Google" Open Letter

As the biggest and most powerful Internet company in the world, and the most unaccountable and non-transparent, Google's public representations and new major ads require regular third-party fact-checking, especially because Google employs no ad disclaimers, obviously confident that it has no Federal oversight to worry about.

 

 

 

The Perils of Google's New War on Apple

Google has much to lose in its ill-advised PR and public policy war with Apple, its previous closest Silicon Valley ally.

Antitrust or Fiduciary liablility? Google's recent market behavior puts Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt in a lose-lose situation.

Americans want online privacy -- per new Zogby poll

American consumers clearly want online privacy, per a national poll conducted over the weekend by Zogby International, that was commissioned by Precursor LLC. 

  • In a nutshell, over 80% of Americans are concerned about the security and privacy of their personal information on the Internet; about 90% of Americans consider some common industry behaviors to be unfair business practices; and about 80% of Americans support a variety of stronger consumer protections of their privacy online.

More specifically, this Zogby poll asked eight timely questions that are highly pertinent to:

Google's goobristic permission policy: We never need your permission, but you always need ours

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt, dismissed the notion that Google was "arrogant" in an FT interview.

  • Mr. Schmidt: "The arrogance comes across because we trying to do things for end-users against organised opposition from stakeholders that are unhappy -- and they paint us as arrogant. But I am sure that all successful organisations have some arrogance in them."  

It seems to me that "the arrogance comes across" with Google because Google operates, and expects to operate, under a double standard -- where rules, laws and expectations apply to others, but do not, and should not, apply to Google -- because Google is somehow special.

The latest example  of Google's expectation to be treated differently and better than Google treats everyone else -- is Google's "permissions" policy (See the Goobris Series below for other examples.)

Google's "Total Information Awareness" Power -- A one-page graphic of all the information Google has

To help you picture both the enormity and unprecedented power of what Google knows about you and the world's information: public, private and proprietary, I have organized all the world's information types that Google collects onto a one-page chart/PDF: "Google's 'Total Information Awareness' Power."

For those who really want to understand Google and its impact on most everyone and most everything, please read and study this one-page chart/PDF, because much valuable work and insight has gone into it.

  • While the chart is visually packed with information that many may find difficult to unpack or digest, the chart itself is an apt metaphor for both how much information Google has, and also how difficult it is for all of us to get our head around all the information Google routinely collects and uses.

A short refresher on where the term "Total Information Awareness" came from and why it is aptly employed here.

What else does Google secretly track? Top 10 questions for privacy investigators to ask

Current privacy investigations of Google deserve to be much more comprehensive than just Google's latest StreetView wardriving scandal, given that:

Spiraling Privacy Scandals Becoming Googlegate?

Google's long-time cavalier approach to privacy and security are catching up to the company as its latest wardriving privacy scandal, appears to be spiraling out of the control of Google's legendary PR machine. 

First, the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent Google a tough investigative letter on its wanton wardriving of the U.S. The most problematic question for Google got to the root of Google's privacy scandals: "What is Google's process to ensure that data collection associated with new products and services offered by the company is adequately controlled?" This line of inquiry makes it clear this is not just a probe of this privacy incident, but of Google's systemic weaknesses in internal/management controls concerning privacy.

Google's Wanton WarDriving Scandal: Fallout & Cover-up

Google's wanton "wardriving," i.e. detecting, accessing, and recording residential WiFi networks in 30 countries for over three years, was not simply a "mistake," "inadvertent," or an "accident" as the Google's PR machine has spun it. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming to anyone who bothers to examine it closely. 

  • Google's wanton wardriving was either: gross incompetence/negligence or wrongdoing
    • Government investigators must determine for themselves via subpoena, whether or not anyone at Google, in a supervisory or management position, knew that this private "payload" data was being collected, and whether or not this private data had been accessed, copied, analyzed, or used by Google in any way.

The case for why Google's wanton wardriving is more than just a "mistake."        

I.  Identifying the questionable practice: "Wardriving"

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths